Details concerning the Irish Frewen ancestry

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Posted by Bob Frewin Brian Carr (via Lawrence) on July 28, 1998 at 20:20:09:

When my father died in 1992 I found various notes on the family ancestry amongst his papers. I need to "prove" many of these, the sources are not always detailed and some of the notes are oral tradition from older generations. It is believed that we are descendants of Thomas Frewen who came to Ireland with either Oliver Cromwell or General Ireton about 1650. When you have time I would be very pleased if you could shed some light on the arrival of the Frewen brothers in Ireland - I've detailed what I know about them and on the family of John Frewen in the attached papers.

My grandfather maintained that some of the Irish Frewens could be descended from the Freyne family (itself derived from the Norman "de la Freigne"). This type of Anglicisation did occur as local native Irish adopted the surname of their English neighbours, e.g. many of the Smith family in Ireland are descended from the McGowan family, the equivalent word in Irish. I discount his theory for several reasons; firstly the Freynes are not recorded in any number in the Tipperary/Limerick region; the family lands were in the region of the property granted to the Cromwellian Frewen, similar Christian names are repeated in both families and finally, my grandfather, as an ambitious young civil servant in the new State of Ireland would not like to give the impression that he had Cromwellian ancestry as Cromwell was not one of the most beloved visitors to Ireland. As a result of his unpopularity Oliver is almost unknown as a Christian name in Ireland. Interestingly in a 1957 study on forenames in the Limerick/Tipperary region Robert occurs only once in every thousand names, William 94 times and Stephen 6. To put this in perspective John occurs 175 times and Patrick 150.

One of my second cousins has given me a booklet produced by a family history publisher (Halbert's Family Heritage)- most of it is rubbish but it does include a distribution chart of the Frewen family, 166 addresses in total. These were identified by a computer search of about 220 million records (electoral, telephone, business) throughout Europe and most of the English speaking world. A summary of this is also attached. The usual Christian names are Robert, Thomas, Stephen and William. The total number in Ireland (31 households) is tiny in comparison to other family names - there are about 30,000 and 15,000 people respectively called Murphy and O'Brien. I hope eventually to ascertain from whom these Frewens are descended.

Most of what I know of Moreton Frewen is from Anita Leslie's book - I've not yet been able to obtain a copy of Wood's "The Western Adventures of Moreton Frewen" but as it was published in the US I am hopeful. I never met her but as a teenager in the late sixties I met her husband, Cdr. Bill King on a couple of occasions through sailing. Inishshannon House, Moreton's Irish property in Co. Cork was never rebuilt after the fire in 19922(?). When another large house in the locality became an hotel it appropriated the name. Inishshannon House Hotel reputedly contains several of the fittings from the original Inishshannon. One of the boasts of the present owner is that he bathes in a tub once used by Winston Churchill! Do you know what happened to Moreton's older brother Thomas who supposedly was disinherited?

A tenuous Irish Frewen link with the Churchill circle was Brendan Bracken, one of his wartime Ministers and former owner of the Financial Times. Bracken's grandmother was an "Irish" Frewen from Tipperary; coincidentally one of my schoolmates in Dublin was his grand-nephew. Winston's strong patronage, coupled with Bracken's efforts to obfuscate his ancestry and the coincidence of a Frewen link gave rise to the rumour that Bracken was his illegitimate son. (This is well covered in Chas. McLysaght's biography of Bracken.)

The Irish Frewens also have links with education: my grandfather was Secretary of the Department of Education in Ireland under successive Governments prior to his retirement in the 1960's and played a leading role in establishing "Special Education" schools in Ireland.

In addition to any details on the Frewens who came to Ireland I would be very interested to learn about the earlier Frewens. I'm told that the family is recorded in the Doomsday Book but the earliest Frewen "mention" I'm aware of is a Frewen who was chaplain to Wolstan, the last Saxon Bishop of Worcester, around the time of the Norman conquest. Tantalisingly, the note I have states "Frewen played no very creditable part in his downfall." I also know of a Richard Frewen, Bailiff of Worcester in 1473 and of a relative of his, also Richard, who was Prior of the Abbey Church of Great Malvern about 1480. However this is the only detail I have on them. I also have heard of Thomas Frewen, the medical doctor and promoter of inoculation but do not know where he "fits" in the family. Did the family originate in Sussex or in Worcestershire? After the Interregnum how did the family cope with the Restoration? Is the Frewen Library at the University of Portsmouth connected with the Brickwall Frewens? Do you know if there is anyone doing research on the "Frewen Papers" in the University of Sussex? To what do they relate?

Most of my travel now is within the Americas, I rarely visit the UK and any European trips are to Paris or Ireland where I still have a home (Strawberry Hill House, Vico Road, Dalkey, Co. Dublin). Should you ever come on a visit to New York I would be delighted to meet you.

In any event, I do look forward to hearing from you in the hope that some of my questions could be answered

With kind regards and many thanks again for getting in touch.

Bob Frewen.

The Irish Genealogical Office (Mss. Loose Pedigrees Vol. 722, Frewen) contains a letter from Thomas Frewen to Sir William Frewen dated 1743 on the subject of a will of Joseph Frewen dated 1711. I have excerpt notes from the letter, but not a copy of the full text. These are identified as the Frewens of Castleconnell, but this Thomas is almost certainly not the same as the Thomas recorded in the Alumni Dubliniensis 1708-11 (the register of pupils who attended Dublin University / Trinity College) but a member of "your" Frewens of Brickwall, Sussex. The letter is in the form of an enquiry into the parentage of Joseph Frewen, father of Thomas Frewen (Dublin University) of Castleconnell. The letter gives an account of the arrival of the Frewen family in Ireland with Cromwells army in 1650-1. "Three brothers of Dr. Frewen Archbishop of York arrived with Cromwells army. One died of plague at Limerick in 1651, when General Ireton died there; another settled in Ireland and was father of Joseph Frewen of Castleconnell, and probably as you suggest, was husband to Miss Earnes." According to the notes the third brother is recorded in Whitlocks Memorials as having been killed at the Siege of Kilkenny. Thomas Frewen goes on to add that three or four of Dr. Frewen's brothers were unaccounted for, although I can find only two step-brothers who could have been amongst Cromwell's army. A footnote in Mss. 722 adds that Miss Earnes was a daughter of Samuel Earnes of Lothbury, London.

In addition to being soldiers, the Frewen brothers could also have been Adventurers (i.e. loaned/adventured money) under the Adventurer's Act on the basis that they would be repaid in land after the conquest. The Counties of Tipperary and Limerick were reserved for distribution to the Adventurers. Castleconnell is near the Tipperary-Limerick border, Barronstown, my ancestral home is not far from there in Co. Tipperary and that general area is the source of the Irish Frewens. (Since writing this I have ascertained that they were not adventurers in Tipp. Cf Prendergast's book with lists.)

There is a "Frewen's Hill" in Co. Westmeath, Ireland. This has no links with the family and is derived from the Battle of Freamhainn (pronounced Frow-in) which took place in 509AD.

Dublin University, (commonly known as Trinity College) whilst being a "Protestant" university was attended by the sons of many Catholic Irish chieftains prior to the 1640's. After the Cromwellian Plantation (1650's) the laws were tightened and Catholics were forbidden entry. Thus it is certain that Thomas was a member of the Established Church. It is a tradition in my family that one of the daughters is called "Grace", (the name occurs frequently) supposedly in honour of a Protestant "Grace" who married an ancestor after the Frewens had converted to Catholicism. Her family held the land in trust for the Frewens as Catholics were not allowed own or inherit property until the Penal Laws were repealed with the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829. In practice, many of the laws were not enforced after the mid 18th century. I do not know of any Church of Ireland Frewens.

Frequent male Christian names in the Irish family are Robert, Thomas, Edmond, William and Stephen, none of which are traditionally Irish. The latter two are particularly associated with the legal profession, several were State Solicitors for Co. Tipperary. There were three main branches of the family, the Frewens of Barronstown, Carron and Roseboro.
My direct ancestor Edmond inherited the family land from his brother Robert who was unmarried and died at a relatively young age in the 1850's. In the 1840's Robert, at the request of the local Hunts, organised an annual race meeting at his home in Barronstown. (Given that this was the era of the Famine, the family must have been well established.) This became known as the Tipperary Races, a Turf Club event, and they were run each year until the late 1920's. This was a two-day meeting and the average daily gate was about 2,500 - quite an event in those years for a market town. Hunter Trials and point-to-points were also organised. I have some race cards dating back to the late 1800's and financial accounts for the meetings in later years. The family also was involved in bloodstock and the last successful horse we bred was Sorley Boy, who won several races including the Welsh Grand National in 1936. He started joint favourite in the Grand National the same year but was kicked at the first fence and brought down.

Frewen holdings at Barronstown Laffan, Barronstown Ormonde, Ballykisteen and Bohercrowe were situated in the same barony, Clanwilliam, often straddling several civil and church parishes. Church of Ireland and Catholic parishes have different boundaries which makes research more complicated. Clanwilliam derives its name from William de Burgo, who settled there in the early 13th century. The main family property at Barronstown was inherited in 1932 by my grandfather from his uncle, who died without an heir. Thus about 300 acres was owned by my grandfather. At that time farming was not a viable economic proposition and he continued to live in and work in Dublin, letting the land for grazing. Annual rental income averaged Stg5.2/6 per acre in the late 1940's and he had many problems with tenants, staff etc. During the same era and up to the early 1950's the Irish Land Commission was endeavouring to consolidate small-holdings and increase the average size of the typical farm. Absentee landlords found it impossible to retain possession, their lands were either sold voluntarily or purchased under a compulsory acquisition order by the State and redistributed to small farmers on a lease-purchase plan. My grandfather sold in 1950/1. The house on the Ballykisteen property was bought by a neighbour and merged with his stud operation at Acraboy House, becoming the administrative offices and stud managers apartment. The property was again sold in the 1980's.

The biggest problem I face is the absence of State records for Ireland. The main archive for records relating to the Cromwellian Settlement was the Four Courts building in Dublin. This was destroyed during the Civil War in Ireland in 1922. However, some of the records for Co. Tipperary were published in the late 1800's and I hope to trace these. I am also building up a "source catalogue" of existing records to be checked. In recent years the Irish government, through the Tourism Board and a Youth Enterprise Scheme has started to build computerised databases of family records, Church Records, etc. to help develop the growing interest in genealogy tourism. Hopefully this will ease my task.

John Frewen : baptised in 1560. First married Eleanor and had issue:

Accepted baptised 26th May 1588, died 28th March 1664
(was Archbishop of York)

Thankful born 1591 died 1656
(was Purse Bearer and Secretary to Lord Keeper Coventry)

John born 1593 died 1594

John born 1595 died 1654
(Married Dorothea, then remarried. From him are descended the Frewens of Ilmer).

Joseph born 1598 died 1602

Stephen born 1600 ?
(married Katherine Scott, secondly Elizabeth Greene, from whom are descended the Frewens of Brickwall)

Mary Born 1603 ?
(Married John Bigg of Tenterden)

Eleanor died in 1606; John F. married Helen Hunt of Brede and had issue:

Benjamin born 1609 ?
(citizen of London and one of the Company of Haberdashers)

Thomas born 1611

Timothy born 1614 died 1614

Jacob born 1615 died 1616

Samuel born 1617
This leaves only Thomas and Samuel unaccounted for. According to Thomas Frewen's letter of 1743, the father of Joseph Frewen of Castleconnell was presumed to be called Thomas. Thus it would seem that Thomas Frewen born in 1611 married Miss Earnes and from them are descended the Frewens of Castleconnell and thus of Galbally and Barronstown.

"Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" records that Ireton left a strong detachment and garrison at Castleconnell while he advanced to besiege Limerick.
Griffiths "Primary Valuation" (1846) lists John Frewen as a landholder of considerable proportions and a lessor of land to other tenants.
Marriage Lists 1754 Dublin: William Frewen, Gent., married Phebe Davis on 16th May.

Undated note in the writing of Robert Frewen (born 1895))

"Headstones erected over the family grave in Galbally Cemetery"

Gloria in excelcis Deo
Erected by Mary Fruin in memory of her
husband Darby Fruin of Rossbeg who
depd life Decr 8th 1822 aged 70.
May his soul rest in peace Amen

Erected by Michael Fruin in memory
of his sister Johanna Fruin deceased
August 1st 1804 aged 19 years
R.I.P. Amen

Erected by Mr Robt Frewen of Barronstown
in memory of his beloved father Mr Jeremiah
Frewen who departed life March 1st 1827
aged 30 years and also the above named
Mr Robt Frewen who departed this life on
the 24th of October 1857 aged 33 years.

Here lieth the body of Robert Fruin deceased
in 1793 aged 75 yrs Johanna Fruin his
granddaughter deceased June 14 1802 aged
14 years. Also Thomas Fruin his son
deceased August 16 1803 aged 55 years
May they rest in peace Amen

Trees - from gravestones
Darby Fruin (b 1752, d 8/12/1822) = Mary

Michael Fruin - his sister Johanna Fruin (b 1785, d1/8/1804)

Jeremiah Frewen (b 1797, d 1/3/1827)
Robert Frewen of Barronstown (b1824, d 24/10/1857)

Robert Fruin (b1718, d1793)
Thomas Fruin (b1748, d16/8/1803)
Johanna Fruin (b1788, d14/6/1802)

Tree of the English Frewens in Ireland:
Thomas Frewen
(born 1611, married Miss Earnes, crossed to Ireland c.1650 with Cromwell and settled in Castleconnell in the Barony of Clanwilliam)
Joseph Frewen
(farmer, married Miss Short, will of 1711 recorded in letter of 1743
Thomas Frewen (Dublin University 1708 - 1711 -B.A. Aesth.)

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